In Defense of Non-Logical Language

One of my favorite topics is language so tonight I’m going to write a post about it. I want to preface it by noting that I’m not a linguist, just a language enthusiast and a person with a lot of conjectures. So I really can’t be trusted.

Earlier today I was reading an article about a language called Lojban. It’s a “logical language”, which means it was invented to remove the inherent ambiguities in modern language. For instance, the problem that arises from its and it’s or the fact that you can run for office or run a marathon. Or more frustratingly, the verb ‘be’. I am, you are, s/he is. It’s all rather confusing. Admittedly, I haven’t developed a theory about why words with different meanings sound the same or why one word can have a few meanings, but I can speak to the last issue and it’s one of my favorite things about language.

Irregular verbs: almost every language has them and almost every teenager hates dealing with them when they’re in high school. But I’d suggest that irregular verbs are the part of language that makes it human. Here’s why: even though we now have languages being invented in super-logical ways, most languages didn’t start out that way. It’s not like people wrote down rules about language and then decided to abide by those rules. It was the other way around. This is also the reason it’s hard to teach some languages because we retroactively apply certain rules that the native speakers didn’t always adhere to.

So anyway, spoken language came before written language. And certain cool things happened with that. People said some things a lot while other things were said less often. This is highly apparent with ‘to be’. I would imagine that people often spoke about their state, as they do now. So that verb underwent the most change. It’s like anything you use a lot; eventually its shape changes to a point where it may even be unrecognizable.

So yeah, people spoke and language changed. And that’s because language was never meant to be logical. It’s fluid and elastic, conforming to the needs of a society. People aren’t bound by the laws of their language, they create and change them. To me that seems more logical than a language that’s unchangeable. It’s something that I could complain about for days but I realize how fruitless that is. But still…

Needless to say, I’m anti-“logical language”. We’re not robots.



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